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tv   The 11th Hour With Brian Williams  MSNBC  August 28, 2017 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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also north korea fires another missile. the president heads to flood ravaged texas. and a newly pardoned joe arpaio could try to primary one of trump's republican critics. the 11th hour rgs on a monday night begins now. "the 11th hour" on a monday night begins now. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. i'm in for brian williams. day 221 of the trump administration and it brings a crisis for this president at home and abroad. all while he deals with the building pressure from the russia investigation that this white house cannot seem to shake. we start in southeast texas where now tropical storm harvey is still pounding the coast with historic levels of rain. experts say the storm is just getting started, with up to 20 more inches of rain expected. officials have confirmed the
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storm has killed three people. more than 2,000 rescued. president trump will visit the area tomorrow. here is what he said about the storm today. >> i want to begin today by extending my thoughts and prayers for those affected by hurricane harvey. right now the single most important thing is the safety and security of those still in harm's way, including the first responders who have been so terrific and brave. you're going to see very rapid action from congress, certainly from the president, and you're going to get your funding. >> now during that same press conference, the president was asked about russia. tonight the white house is dealing with several new headlines about the investigation into russia's interference in our election and whether the trump campaign could have been involved. >> mr. trump would you consider russia as a security threat? >> well ,i consider many countries a security threat unfortunately when you look at
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what's going on in the world today. >> do you know finland could be of assistance helping u.s. get better relations with russia? >> i hope we do have good relations with russia. i say it loud and clear. i've been saying it for years. i think it's good if we have great relationships or at least good relationships with russia. that's very important. and i believe some day that will happen. >> if finland's relationship with russia were to deteriorate, would the u.s. -- what kind of assistance would the u.s. be willing to give to finland bilaterally, if we needed it? >> as i said before our relationship with finland is a very close one and we're always ready to help finland. >> actually they're a nato member, so we're obliged to help them if something were to happen. news organization haves published three big new reports about the russia investigation. first, new tonight, nbc news reports exclusively that justice department special counsel robert mueller's team is asking if trump tried to hide the
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purpose of that now-famous trump tower meeting on june 9th, 2016. they're looking at the statement that donald trump jr. released after the meeting with the russian attorney and others became public knowledge and asking how much of it the president wrote. according to the sources prosecutors want to know what the president knew about the meeting and whether he sought to conceal its purpose. trump's lawyer called the president's role in crafting the response minimal. that story comes on the heels of a "new york times" report from -- about a trump associate who boasted that a moscow business deal will quote get donald elected. the copy of "the times," writer sater writes, our boy can become president of the usa and we can get engineer it. i will manage the process. the messages were reported sent to trump's lawyer.
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this majr macopies do not show cohen responded. he said sater is quote to prone salesman ship also the subject of a third story a "washington post" report that says cohen asked for a putin aid to help out and business deal. it says a top executive from donald trump's real estate company e-mailed vladimir putin's personal spokesperson during the presidential campaign to ask for help advancing a stalled trump tower development project in moscow. according to documents submitted monday. cohen said the organization has reviewed countless opportunities the moscow proposal was rejected. he added, to the best of his knowledge, trump was never in contact with anyone about it other than cohen on three different occasions. the trump organization said it never had any real estate holdings or interests in russia. all of this as it unfolds there is new breaking news for this white house to deal with. north korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile
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toward japan this evening. the prime minister of japan called the action reckless, unprecedented and a significant threat. our leadoff panel tonight. white house bureau chief for the "washington post" phil rucker. boston herald chief washington reporter kimberly atkins. and with me in studio, former assistant special watergate county attorney, nick ackerman. thank you. nick, let me start with you. tonight's nbc news report cites a person familiar with the robert mueller strategy saying quote even if trump is not charged with a crime as a result of the statement it could be useful to mueller's team to show trump's conduct to a jury that may be considering other charges. put this into context. >> well i think what he is talking about is looking at the whole picture. when you're a prosecutor and you're trying to show somebody's motive, their intent, whether or not they're engaged in a pattern of activity, you try and put all of this together, so that the jury has before it the entire picture. what you have here is an entire
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picture of the deception and lying from day one where donald trump has denied any business interest in russia, has denied any involvement with any of the russians, but yet as the evidence has come out, he's been, during the campaign, working on a project to try and get a trump tower in moscow. he had -- there is a meeting in trump tower where his son and his son-in-law attended where they were trying to get dirt on hillary clinton. so as all of this comes out you're starting to get a picture of what occurred. and that's what a prosecutor wants to present to a jury. >> kimberly, to put a finer point in this, donald trump has been denying for some time that he has any knowledge of anyone on his campaign having anything to do with russia. in a conversation with julie pace in february, a reporter here is what happened.
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>> can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with russia during the course of the election? >> well, i told you general flynn obviously was dealing. so that's one person, but he was dealing, as he should have been -- >> during the election? >> no, nobody that i know of. >> you're not aware of any contacts during the course of the election. >> how many times do i have to answer this question. >> can you just say yes or no i -- >> i know you have to get up and ask a question. but russia is a ruse. i have nothing to do with russia. haven't made a phone call to russia in years. don't speak to people from russia. not that i wouldn't i just have nobody to speak to. i spoke to putin twice. he called me on the election. i told you this. he called me on the inauguration a few days ago. i have nothing to do with russia. to the best of my knowledge no person that i deal with does. >> kimberly that was february, pretty strenuous, no person i deal with has anything to do with russia. >> yes, he's within denying that neither he nor anyone in his
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circle have been in contact with russia. but he denied that he had any business dealings with russia at all, and we've learned now that there was at least an attempt to create a deal for a trump tower in moscow. so he is constantly contradicting himself on this. that's probably one reason why that robert mueller is interested in looking at exactly what he said, what role he played. i mean, sometimes as they say it's not the crime it's the cover-up. we don't know if there is either. we have to wait for robert mueller's report. but if there is is evidence of some sort of obstruction that's certainly that will be very high on robert mueller's interest list. >> phillip rucker, your newspaper broke a story about business dealings of the trump organization. in moscow. >> yes. >> and the president has shone -- shown great disdain for any part of this investigation, including that part which may involve russian interference in the election.
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but he's said very clearly, that robert mueller looking into his private financial dealings would be crossing some sort of red line. looks like that's what robert mueller is doing. >> that's exactly right. look there were clearly business dealings between the trump organization and russia during the course of the campaign. that's almost certainly going to drive the interest of robert mueller. i imagine it will give the mueller team an excuse to dig deeper into the trump organization, to scrutinize the finances, find out if there were any other meetings, perhaps even go back earlier in the calendar before the campaign to look at earlier efforts to do business in russia. this is all going to become part of the investigation and that makes the president very nervous. but the importance of the new reporting out today is that it actually documents the first time senior level trump adviser, michael cohen, he's an executive at the trump organization, he's a lawyer there. but he's also been a political adviser to the president for many years before this campaign.
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it details him reaching out directly to putin's adviser to his spokesperson in the government. >> nick, put your prosecutor hat on here. michael cohen, like all of donald trump's lawyers, tend to dismiss and poopoo these things, in fact, i think he said something along the lines of, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the trump organization has business dealings all over the world. the job of mueller here is to figure out what interference russia had in the election. if you were robert mueller right now what's the best piece of evidence you have seen? >> the best piece i have seen is probably the memo relating to the june 9th meeting where they talk about bringing documents to the campaign. they talk about first sending them to trump's secretary and then saying well, instead we'll bring them directly to donald jr. i would the bet you anything those documents were the same documents hacked out of the
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hillary clinton's campaign headquarters. very sensitive documents. and later, two weeks, within two weeks after that june 9th meeting, these documents show up on the internet and they show up in wikileaks. and we do know that donald trump's chief operative, roger stone was in contact with both guccifer, who is the russian hacker, and was in contact with julian assange. so if you put all that together over that timeline, and then look at the dealings that donald trump had in russia, and the blatant conflict of interest that existed between trying to build a trump tower in moscow and running a presidential campaign, where he has to deal with the russians, and there he is flattering vladimir putin, i might point out that not once during any point in the campaign, either before or
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after, has donald trump ever said one bad word with putin. on the other hand, he's had plenty of bad things to say about mitch mcconnell, about the speaker of the house, and the two republican senators from arizona. >> right. >> that in itself raises questions. >> kimberly, one doesn't have to be a lawyer or a journalist to remember that donald trump jr. had said in relation to the june 9th, 2016 meeting, he didn't really know who it was. a friend asked him to take it. he wasn't sure the topic. and then suddenly days later we see all the emails in which he said he was excited about the scoop on hillary clinton. at some point the pattern of dishonesty was established when those e-mails were released. >> and in between those two things, we had several statements from donald trump jr. sort of amending the one before, before it was finally, as you said, right there in the e-mail that not only was he aware of what the meeting was about, but that he was recommending timing about the release of such
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damaging information on hillary clinton. and so, yes, i mean that weighs to the credibility of every person of interest in this investigation. and i think to what extent if at all the president played a role in trying to craft that message around what this meeting was about, is definitely -- it's clearly something that's obviously of interest to robert mueller as this investigation goes forward. it's one more piece of the puzzle that the investigators are putting together. >> phillip, let me ask you this. the president was asked a couple of times today whether if there were -- there was russian aggression against finland -- it was hosting the president of finland -- what the united states' response would be and whether, you know, what he thought about russia. again, the president refused to say that he saw russia as a threat. he said he sees many countries as a threat. he never takes that opportunity to say what many americans
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believe. >> that's right. and as we were saying earlier he has never said a bad word about president putin so far. but it's important to point out in regard to the possible hypothetical threat against finland. that is a nato country, and the united states is obligated by treaty, article 5, which we've heard a lot about, because the president was very slow to endorse article 5, but that requires we would have to act to defend any of your nato allies if they were under any sort of assault of that kind. >> all right, phillip rucker, kimberly and nick. thank you. coming up did tv ratings factor into the timing of the pardon of joe arpaio? you'll hear for yourself what the president had to say today when "the 11th hour" continues. wahhhh... right. in. your. stomach! watch this!... >>yikes, that ice cream was messing with you, wasn't it? try lactaid, it's real ice cream, without that annoying lactose. lactaid.
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in the middle of hurricane harvey hitting friday night you chose to pardon former sheriff joe arpaio. i wonder if you could tell us what was behind your thinking for issuing the pardon for the sheriff and as well, what do you say to your critics, even some in your own party, who say it was the wrong thing to do? >> well a lot of people think it was the right thing to do, john. actually in the middle of a hurricane even though it was a friday evening, i assumed the ratings would be far higher than normally. you know, the hurricane was just starting. i put it out that i had pardoned as we call -- as we say sheriff joe. he has done a great job for the people of arizona. he is very strong on borders, very strong on illegal immigration. he is loved in arizona. i thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly when they
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came down with their big decision to go get him right before the election voting started. welcome back to "the 11th hour." president trump today provided some insight as to why he pardoned former sheriff joe arpaio, as hurricane harvey, a category 4 hurricane, charged towards texas. politicians from both parties criticized the pardon, including arizona senator jeff flake, who tweeted, quote, he would have preferred the president honor the judicial process and let it take its course. now today arpaio added fuel to the feud, addressing the possibility that he would run for flake's senate seat in 2018. he told the washington examiner, i'm sure getting a lot of people around the state asking me to challenge flake. all i'm saying is the door is open and we'll see what happens. i've got support. i know what support i have. phillip rucker and kimberly are still with me. i want to correct something.
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finland and sweden are friends of nato. but they don't fall under the same article 5 obligation for nato countries. so i want to let the viewers know. >> and i apologize too. >> that's my mistake, not yours. >> thank you. >> let's talk about 85-year-old joe arpaio who as recently as december claimed that he had proof that barack obama was born in kenya, running against jeff flake for the united states senate seat in arizona in 2018. what are your thoughts? >> well, it would be quite a race, that's for sure. i actually interviewed sheriff arpaio over the weekend. and he said look he is a freeman -- free man now, but he's not going away. he wants to stay involved in politics and seems to be sort of hungering for another race. that would be a pretty explosive primary battle. there's already a competitive
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primary battle in arizona for the jeff flake seat. there are a number of challengers. and we're seeing seeing some of the trump allies put energy behind kelly ward there. but it would be a really -- a really competitive race and would really i think challenge mitch mcconnell who is very much supporting senator flake as he does all the republican incumbents. >> this is an interesting point, kimberly. the republican establishment is supporting jeff flake. certainly the trump allies don't have a friend in arizona's other senator who has a great deal of affection from arizona residents, john mccain. the trump folks are supporting kelly ward at least for the moment. and now arpaio possibly sticks a toe into this. what does this play out and look like for you? does it even look like republicans might lose this senate seat given what's going on? >> that's a real possibility. that's one of the things that mitch mcconnell and other establishment republicans are worried about. they want to put their support
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behind jeff flake, and he's one of the more vulnerable republicans up for re-election in 2018, in all this talk about the primary challenges and getting the president behind one or maybe now two of his primary challenges. if arpaio jumps into the race, just makes it all that much harder and easier for that seat to turn blue. >> phil, let's listen to president trump. he was asked about this in a press conference today by fox's john roberts. he -- i want our viewers to listen carefully. the president at one point in comparing this pardon to previous presidential actions -- let me i'll just tell you about it. he sort of conflated pardoning with the commuting of sentences. he only referred to things done by presidents obama and clinton, skipped president bush. he was -- he was laying out the case for pardoning sheriff arpaio, former sheriff arpaio. >> yeah, it was interesting he did that.
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look, this is something the president has been wanting to do for many months now. donald trump had formed a relationship with joe arpaio back five years ago when they were both the faces of the birther movement. >> this is the false conspiracy lie about president obama's birth place in hawaii, and they were both doing their investigations into the birth certificate. they became avatars and friends and soul mates and became friends on the campaign trail as well. and trump is looking out for him, and trying to protect him irrespective of what the judge found in that trial there. joe arpaio, as sheriff of maricopa county, has a long history of accusations of racial profiling and a number of other poor policing tactics. and president trump is sort of looking past that to help out his political friend. >> it went beyond that, though because, phil, you reported this weekend, the president asked the
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attorney general jeff sessions about whether it would be possible for the government to drop the charges against joe arpaio, and was told, that would be inappropriate. >> that's right. >> so this was something that the president was champing at the bit to do, get joe arpaio off the hook? >> that's right. and ask that he had a -- attorney general sessions. it wasn't a clear directive necessary or -- and there was no formal review that the justice department did. but trump did actually ask sessions whether it would be possible to drop that case altogether before the trial even began. he was told that would be inappropriate. but it represents a real sort of crossing of this -- this divide between the executive branch or rather between the white house and the justice department. that is not the typical behavior of a president interfering with a criminal case like that. >> phil, kimberly, thank you both for your analysis and your reporting tonight. coming up, what does the latest show of aggression mean for the white house dealing with
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a huge crisis at home? mora that when "the 11th hour" continues.
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>> welcome back to "the 11th hour" with news breaking tonight on multiple stories. in texas, on russia and joe arpaio, came news that north korea fired a ballistic missile through japanese airspace. that marks a real escalation by kim jong-un. the japanese prime minister said
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he spoke to president trump by phone today following the launch. for more i'm joined by a senior researcher at yale law school. also asia policy coordinator for the hillary clinton 2016 campaign. and u.s. army retired colonel jack jacobs, or military affairs analyst and a recipient of the medal of honor for his combat actions in vietnam. thank you both for being here. let's talk about this, the president had been clear on twitter and in person talking about fewer -- fury and flames and how terrible it would be if north korea did anything. we missed this on friday, but they fired a few duds on friday and then fired a missile across japanese airspace today. what have we got? >> this comes at the end of about a two-week pause in the war of words with north korea that erupted two weeks ago when president trump first made his fire and fury comments.
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you may recall two weeks ago the north koreans following those remarks issued a plan to potentially launch missiles over guam. >> right. >> they said in advance, they would overfly vjapanese airspac and -- >> and the missiles would land just short of guam? >> exactly. that plan was really an effort to try to call the president's bluff. he said if the north korea threatened the united states again he would rain down fire and fury upon him. the north koreans said we've got something in our back pocket we can use if you want to take it further. >> right. >> and it seemed that things calmed down and things were deescalating. but this is north korea basically shutting the window on that period of relative calm, and saying, we can make good on our threats too. they did not launch four missiles as they had promised in the original guam plan. they did not actually launch them towards guam. they launched them to the north of japan. but they did use a coercive
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demonstration of force to show us that the united states would have to respond to their threats. >> we're putting the map up you can launch south or north to japan. they chose north, roughly from pyongyang and they went north over the top of japan just for a little bit. colonel jack, the problem here, you had rex tillerson after the fire and fury comments, saying, let's everybody, just calm down. particularly aimed at the north koreans even the chinese told everybody to cool the rhetoric. now what does the president do -- president do? >> well, i think what he has to do is get tillerson to talk to the chinese to have them reiterate something that they said through one of their semi officials mouthpieces after the last launch. they are saying united states do not launch a preemptive strike. by the way, north korea if you launch a pre-emptive strike, you're on your own. what the chinese need to do now is to say through the semi-
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official mouthpiece, and by the way, north korea, don't launch a pre-emptive strike on anybody else in asia, because you're on your own then too. >> as a guy with a lot of military experience in asia we have relations -- we often talk about nato and article 5 but we have mutual defense treaties with japan and south korea if they are attacked. >> and others as well. you have other countries like south vietnam -- like vietnam, there's a freudian slip for you. like vietnam asking us to be vigilant because they're concerned as well. >> the mutual defense treaties are the heart of the matter as to why we think about this missile launch tonight as worrisome. if you think about the possibility that north korean missile launches could blow up mid-air, as they sometimes do, it might have been possible that debris could have actually fallen on japan. which would have risen to the level of something approaching an armied attack. and because the united states is pledged to defend japan that is
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a deadly serious proposition for washington, too. now thankfully that did not happen. hopefully north korea will not make this normal course of business. but when it comes to the question of what the administration should do next item number one is reassure the allies in japan and south korea that we stand by them and we will be by their sides from a defensive perspective, before doing anything else. part of the purpose of this coercive demonstration by north korea is to try to demonstrate to south korea and japan that the united states will not be there to defend them. >> to that point when asked about finland today, which is not a nato member, but a friend of nato, if russia were to be aggressive, what would the united states do, donald trump almost always misses the opportunity to say we're going to stand up for our allies. >> that's right. and one of the things our allies have been asking for a long time, has been for us to reassert the fact that we're going to mutually defend each other. we have not done that, and we
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need to do that, not just in asia, you're absolutely right. >> thank you both for your analysis tonight. still ahead, is there any end in sight for the flooding in houston? we're going live there next with the latest on the disaster still unfolding in texas. "the 11th hour" back after this. crohn's disease. you're more than just a bathroom disease. you're a life of unpredictable symptoms. crohn's, you've tried to own us. but now it's our turn to take control with stelara® stelara® works differently for adults with moderately to severely active crohn's disease. studies showed relief and remission, with dosing every 8 weeks. stelara® may lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections and may increase your risk of infections and cancer. some serious infections require hospitalization. before treatment, get tested for tuberculosis. before or during treatment, always tell your doctor if you think you have an infection or have flu-like symptoms or sores, have had cancer, or develop any new skin growths, or if anyone in your house needs or recently had a vaccine. alert your doctor of new or worsening problems, including headaches, seizures, confusion, and vision problems.
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>> i think that you're going to see very rapid action from congress, certainly from the president and you're going to get your funding. it's a terrible tragedy. we expect to have requests on our desk fairly soon. we think that congress will feel very much the way i feel in a very bipartisan way. that will be nice. but we think you're going to have what you need and it's going to go fast. >> president trump is promising a quick federal response to might be the costliest storm in u.s. history. it's gonna be a long road to recovery, likely taking years to
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rebuild damaged roads and homes and destroyed businesses. congress returns to washington next week. they are anticipating a request for billions of dollars in relief aid. president trump meanwhile will visit texas tomorrow to tour some of the hardest hit areas. maya rodriguez is at a houston shelter, where thousands have gone. >> we're at the george r. brown convention center in downtown houston. it is the largest shelter set up in the city of houston. even at this late hour, people are still coming in and registeri registering here. this has a capacity of about 5,000 people. but they've breached that kpapt at this point. people are coming in, with their kids, with their pets. people trying to get a towel to dry off, because everyone who is coming in here is quite wet and cold. they're tired. some of them have been going for hours just trying to get to a
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place where they are safe and they can actually get here. want you guys to come with me over here as i talk to someone, who is in charge. david brady, with the american red cross joining us now. thank you for being here. tell us what it's like in here and what the situation is, with all these people that you have in here. >> well, what it's like, it's a situation where we've got a lot of people in this community that are out of their homes right now. and we've got a great community here that's rallied behind them,erthem, rallied behind the entire city. they have a warm smiling face here, cots, blankets, food. and people just to talk to if they need to. so it's a challenging situation, but because of this amazing city and state that we live here in texas, it's a welcoming and i'm sure for our folks who are having to stay here for a couple days, it's something they're happy to be in at this moment.
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>> what is there a need for right now? >> we need two things mainly. financial donations to continue to support this effort, because it's going to be a long one. and we also need volunteers. >> you need medical professionals as well. not just regular volunteers, but people with skills? >> that does help. nurses and doctors. but we have a lot of that already coordinated and going on. so i know there's still a lot of work yet to be done, but right now we have great coordination between our mayor and judges on working with the red cross with a great partnership to make sure we're doing the right things and serving the needs of the people who really need us. >> i know you're at 5,000, at capacity, but you have more than 5,000 people here. when do you start turning people away? what happens to people? >> we won't turn anybody away. we're going to take care of our fellow texans. we're going to make sure we do everything to support them and we're going to work hard to do it. and thank goodness we have amazing red cross staff and volunteers and the community has
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rallied behind us for that. >> david brady with the american red cross, thanks so much for what you're doing. there you have it. there are thousands of people here needing a warm place to stay tonight. >> that's an amazing message, that they are not turning anyone away. thank you, maya for your great reporting since last week. the city of houston did not order mandatory evacuations. as we've said, parts of the city are completely under water tonight. emergency responders are overwhelmed with calls to revg -- rescue thousands of people trapped in their homes. city officials reported earlier they rescued about 3,000 people and received 75,000 911 calls. the stranded are mostly without power or running water for many help could be a long way off. joining me on the phone is houston fire chief sam pena whom i spoke with 12 hours ago. good to talk to you again. thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me tonight. >> what's the situation in terms of the most important things, the rescues, the time it's
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taking for people to get through to 911, and the pending critical responses that need to take place? >> sure. sure. well i can tell you that the situation remains dynamic and remains challenging. in the last 24 hours, we've responded, the houston fire department has responded to over 3,800 calls for service. over 2,000 of those have been for water related emergencies. so, you know, the fact that the rain keeps falling, the fact that we have saturated grounds and really nowhere for the water to drain appropriately and efficiently, it's causing a lot of issues for the city certainly, but i couldn't be prouder of the men and women of the houston fire department. they have been responding to each of these calls. some have been working close to 48 hours now straight. and tirelessly working to ensure the safety of our citizens here
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in houston. and in a partnership, it's not just an effort by the houston fire department, the houston police department, the public works, the other municipal employees and volunteers as well as the community itself, getting involved and helping their fellow man. it's -- you know, in this tragedy, that's really heart-warming and i'm really proud to be here in houston. >> chief, you got coast guard coming in from all over the country, urban search and rescue teams from cities across the country, including from new york. the governor has activated all 12,000 national guard troops. do you have the people and the assets you need to finish the job? >> well, i can tell you you're correct. we have assets from all over the country. the texas task force one in force. we also have assets -- urban search and rescue assets from fema, along with their equipment, which was desperately
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needed. we do have a significant amount of federal resources, state resources and local resources committed to this effort. but we could always use more. you know, the issues we're having is certainly our fire tracks can't get access into srn certain areas. we need high water vehicles. that's one of the items we're in short supply of. you know, boats, certainly we have a significant number of boats that we're effecting rescues on. but once we evacuate people from the hazard zone, and get them to a primary evacuation zone, it's difficult to get them sbho tint shelter. just because getting across the city is challenging. >> you have the gratitude of an entire nation for the work that you and your colleagues at houston fire and the rest of the rescuers are undertaking. thank you again for your time. >> thank you. and i want to make sure that i
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acknowledge the work that mayor sylvester turner has done and his commitment to make sure we have all the resources we need to safely mitigate this. >> thank you, chief. coming up, are members of president trump's own cabinet showing signs that they're turning against him? we're back after this.
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i don't believe anyone doubts the american people's values or the commitment of the american government or the government's agencies to advancing those values and defending those values. >> and the president's values? >> the president speaks for himself, chris. >> there was a bit of an awkward pause after that when chris wallace asked rex tillerson to sort of restate his case. he seemed to separate himself from the president and the president's response to events in charlottesville yesterday on fox news. tillerson was not the only member of the president's cabinet to make comments distancing themselves. secretary of defense jim mattis told troops in a video that
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since surfaced on facebook to quote, hold the line. >> you're a great example for our country right now. it's got some problems you know it and i know it. it's got problems that we don't have in the military. and you just hold the line, my fine young soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines. just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it, of being friendly to one another, you know, that americans owe to one another. we're so doggone lucky to be americans. >> is the president losing the support of key members of his cabinet? here with me now tamara keith, white house correspondent for npr, and our political reporter for "the new york times." welcome to both of you. tamara, let me start with you. what do you make of this? there has been a suspicion that
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rex tillerson and mattis are not kindred spirits with the president. tillerson has been out of the limelight for some time. not everybody is surprised by his comments but is this a sign of a crack? >> remember, he said something different about the situation in qatar that president trump said immediately afterwards and there is gary cohen who in that interview with the financial times made it pretty clear that he also disagreed with president trump on his charlottesville comments. and in other reporting, had contemplated resigning. this is you combine this with what is really fascinating about this is you combine this with these business leaders and others who are separating themselves from the president, the business groups that dissolved and you have basically a bunch of people, including members of congress as well who maybe six, eight months ago would have been afraid of backlash from president trump or concerned about a tweet storm coming after them. and now they seem unafraid of the president. >> jeremy, what difference does
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it make at this point i guess is the question i have. it shouldn't surprise anybody that some people are figure to have these fallouts with the president. unless the president fires tillerson or mattis, what difference does it make that they are now a little freer to speak their mind? >> i think the big problem for donald trump is that cabinet officials are no longer scared of breaking with him. the gary cohen break was a huge deal. rex tillerson is somebody who chooses his words carefully, he's very measured, deliberative. almost the opposite of trump in style. this is more than a difference in style. this is a man who felt he was called to service, called to duty to serve his country as secretary of state and he clearly felt so strongly about this, that a man as taciturn as he is, and how he chooses his
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words so precisely, knew exactly what he was doing when he said the president speaks for himself. if i were donald trump i would be unsettled by that. >> but both of these men in the different things they did, in the facebook interview and the interview with fox news if you want to interpret it as not a break with the president you could. you could hear rex tillerson, saying, the president speaks for himse himself. you can hear james mattis saying america is divided right now. we don't have that problem in the military and likelihood that's how the president is going to play this. >> many people in the administration have said the president speaks for himself or the president's tweet speaks for itself. that's not new phraseology. but the way it was delivered, the followup question certainly delivered the message that it seems clear that rex tillerson intended to be delivered. and the president of the united states doesn't have a ton of options. he needs the secretary of state right now. he needs his secretary of defense, members of congress and
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of the senate have made it clear this was in reference to jeff sessions before when he was on the outs with the president. but it made it pretty clear they don't have room on their dance cards to do a bunch of confirmations now. >> let me turn to mexico. the president gave a press conference today and took some questions while he was with the president of finland. he said the wall is getting built and mexico is going to pay for it. although, jeremy, he changed his tune a little bit. now he's using the term, one way or the other it's going to get paid for, possibly by reimbursement. doesn't make for as good a chant, but the president is looking like there's a crack in the commitment to build the wall. >> i don't think the crack is in the commitment to build it but wiggle room on how it would be paid for. a lot of people knew that mexico is not going to write the united states a big fat check for the billions of dollars it's going to cost to build it. i think that build the wall
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becomes shut it down in a few weeks. i think donald trump has made it very clear he's willing to go through a government shutdown to get that wall built. i think his supporters are behind him and i think that a lot of grassroots conservatives believe and probably rightfully so that there's very little political price that they'll pay for a government shutdown. >> unless the government needs to finance the rebuilding of houston. we'll see how that all develops. thank you for being with us tonight. coming up, an awkward moment between the president and two finnish reporters today. that's next when "the 11th hour" continues. do i use a toothpaste that whitens my teeth or...
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one last thing before we go tonight, a fairly standard joint press conference between two world leaders or as the "washington post's" ashley parker put it, two blonds walk into a press briefing. that headline and many jokes like it, stem from an unscripted moment after the world leaders took the standard two questions from reporters from each country. president trump decided they should take a few more questions and seemed to confuse one
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finnish reporter with another. >> i know there might be a couple more questions but do you want to take one more? would you want to take one more? go ahead, pick. >> please -- >> again. you're going to give her the same one? >> she's not the same lady. >> go ahead. >> they are sitting -- side by side. >> we have a lot of blonde women in finland. >> a different reporter asked both presidents a question. here they are sitting side by side at the press conference. an american reporter for pbs posted a photo confirming that yes, they are definitely two different people. that's our broadcast for tonight. thank you for being with us. goodnight from nbc news headquarters in new york. tonight on "all in."
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>> a major american city is under water. >> people carrying babies on their soldiers. >> we've been rescued. we're thankful. >> what did you just go through back there. >> hell. >> why no evacuation? >> should there have been a bigger effort to evacuate houston? >> plus as the president prepares to tour the damage. >> they are saying the biggest, historic. >> the clearest picture yet on trump world coordination with the russians. new york times and washington post reporters who broke the stories join me live. and the president explains his thinking and his timing on the pardon of joe arpaio. >> in the middle of the hurricane, i assume ratings would be higher than they would be. >> good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. the fourth largest city in the nation is under water.

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